Dog fouling facts and myths
Few subjects stir the emotions as much as dog fouling. Dog walkers who fail to clean up leave behind a deeply unpleasant and potentially harmful problem. As with all emotive subjects there are a number of myths that have grown over the years to the point that they are accepted as truth. So, let’s try to deal with this "false news" and get our facts right!
- I don’t have to pick up
Yes you do! Failing to pick up your dog's faeces is an offence. The Council can serve a Fixed Penalty Notice allowing the offender to pay a £75 fine or can prosecute in the Magistrates’ Court with a maximum fine of £1,000.
- Once the waste has been bagged it can be discarded
No it can't. It is astonishing that people take the trouble to bag dog waste and then throw it in a hedge, a tree or on the ground. This is a littering offence and liable to the same penalties as above.
- More dog waste bins would solve the problem
It is not uncommon to see dog fouling very close to the bins. In our experience people are either "picker uppers" or they are not – the presence of a bin makes no difference as they seem to think they are above the law. The Council has no duty to provide dog waste bins but has provided over 500 across the District and spends thousands of pounds every year emptying them. They simply cannot be everywhere! If there isn’t a dog bin or a litter bin nearby then take the waste home and dispose of it within your household refuse.
- The Council doesn’t do anything
The Council provides dog waste bins, empties them, provides signage, undertakes patrols, provides targeted stencilling of hotspots, serves Fixed Penalty Notices, takes prosecutions, arranges additional street cleans for problem areas and follows up all complaints. Dog fouling is not the fault of the Council – it is 100% down to irresponsible dog owners!
- More fines should be issued
To issue a fine an offence has to be witnessed and the offender identified. If a Council Officer such as a Dog Warden sees the offence it will be followed up – however, they cannot be everywhere all the time and even on targeted patrols, to see an offence is rare. If members of the public see an offence, can identify the offender and are willing to provide good evidence in the form of a simple witness statement, then the Council will issue a fine based on that evidence.
- It’s only the same as cow or horse manure
No it isn’t. Dog faeces is much more dangerous and can, for example, cause toxocariasis which can cause damage to the eye and, in some cases, blindness. Young children will be more at risk as they are more likely to come into contact with the faeces and not realise the dangers.
- DNA could be used
DNA is only useful if there is a database to match results against. Even if it was technically and financially feasible, dog owners could not be made to have their dogs’ DNA registered on a database. In practice, the only people that would do this would be responsible dog owners and these people already pick up. Those that don’t pick up just wouldn’t register their dogs.
- Use CCTV
CCTV can only be set up for dog fouling if it is "advertised" – we are not allowed to use it covertly. So dog walkers would be fully aware that CCTV was in use and so would either avoid the area and displace the problem elsewhere or pick up while in range of the cameras. Existing public CCTV systems are used but identification of offenders can still be very difficult.